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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 06:52 GMT
Soaps may be washing out accent
Jessie Wallace and Shane Ritchie
Cockney accents may be impacting on Glasgow's east end
English accents on television could be affecting the traditional Glaswegian patter, according to experts.

Researchers at the University of Glasgow are to look at how Cockney accents on the small screen influence teenagers in the city.

It had been thought this kind of change spread through face-to-face interaction and increased mobility.

But data collected so far suggests other influences and the project has received funding to examine a TV link.

The work has been under way since September 2002 but the team only disclosed its existence after the collection part of the study was completed.

The study group has now received a 124,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council to investigate how television affects the accents of schoolchildren.

Our research is ground-breaking in that it is the first attempt to consider systematically the effects of television on the way we pronounce language
Dr Jane Stuart-Smith
University of Glasgow
Previous investigations have found English accents were creeping into the Glaswegian parlance, with many people pronouncing "bother" as the Cockney "bovver" instead of the more traditional "nae bother".

Other examples include the word "think".

In EastEnders the word is often pronounced "fink" and according to academics it is becoming more prevalent than the typical Glasgow "hink".

The Glasgow results challenge the theory of face-to-face influence because the children who displayed these tendencies were not the younger, more mobile, middle-class speakers, but typically non-mobile working class adolescents.

This has led to speculation that exposure to soaps might be responsible.

Systematic study

But it is thought that until now there had been no systematic research into this.

Dr Jane Stuart-Smith, from the university's English language department, said: "Our research is ground-breaking in that it is the first attempt to consider systematically the effects of television on the way we pronounce language.

"We are now looking forward to analysing the data and finding out whether television does indeed play a part in accent change.

"Our work will help us to understand better the different roles of personal and mediated communication in human interaction."

BBC Scotland's Aileen Clarke
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